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INTO THE WOODS

SYNOPSIS: A modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)-all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.

Review by Louise Keller:
The magic of the Tony Award winning musical comes to the screen, complete with its A-list cast injecting life into the fairy tale characters whose stories are deliciously jumbled and intertwined. Under Rob Marshall's direction, with Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics, James Lapine has adapted the book of his 1986 stage musical, resulting in a lavish production exploding with innovative ideas, marvelous effects, a confounding narrative filled with dollops of humour. Musically clever although not very tuneful, Sondheim's recitative-style songs allow the different characters to sing together at counterpoint, while they opt in and out of the fairy tale in which they inhabit. Don't expect to be humming the tunes afterwards; most likely you will remember the quirky ideas, the fabulous set design, Meryl Streep's blue-haired witch and handsome Chris Pine as Prince Charming who is a real scene stealer as he hams it all up.

Central to the plot is a fabricated story about a baker and his wife whose wish for a child is thwarted by the wicked witch's curse, while the tale of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel are interwoven in unexpected and surprising ways. Streep gets top billing as the witch and she makes the most of every second. Surprisingly it is Emily Blunt as the baker's wife who has the most screen time; she and James Corden make a good pair as they frantically try to gather the four nominated items required to revoke the witch's curse. Anna Kendrick charms as Cinderella while Depp is like a pantomime character in his guise as the big bad wolf that follows Riding Hood to Grandma's House. I laughed when Chris Pine's Prince Charming admits to being raised to be charming and not sincere, when caught flirting. Vocally, the entire cast is faultless.

After story establishment everything goes wrong in the woods and recriminations start to fly with characters weaving in and out of each other's stories. The film looks stunning through Dion Bebe' lens and production designer Dennis Gassner delivers an ethereal reality for the all-important woods where most of the action takes place. Music, fantasy and fairy tales have never been so complicated or visually lavish as in this on-screen bonanza that will delight the whole family on many levels.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

INTO THE WOODS (PG)
(US, 2014)

CAST: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski and Johnny Depp

PRODUCER: Rob Marshall, John DeLuca, Marc Platt, Callum McDougall

DIRECTOR: Rob Marshall

SCRIPT: James Lapine (based on musical play by Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dion Beebe

EDITOR: Wyatt Smith

MUSIC: Stepehen Sondheim & James Lapine

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dennis Glassner

RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 8, 2015







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